I am shamelessly stealing this blog topic from my blog for work today, just as an FYI. In looking for an interesting topic to write about for today, I came across an article in the Washington Post about how President Obama is starting to attempt to tap his expansive grassroots network to get support for his policies, specifically his budget, now that he’s actually in office. He tried this, with mixed results, back in February when he was trying to get his embattled stimulus package passed. Apparently, it seems that it’s harder to get people excited over lobbying for a budget than about getting out the vote. Who would’ve guessed that?? I do wish him luck though. I have always believed that people in my generation did not care enough about politics beyond election day.
But, seeing Pres. Obama effectively use most form of new media to such a successful end seems to have set off a sort of frenzy in his fellow politicians. We now see politicians and pols ranging from Sen. Claire McCaskill to Karl Rove to David Gregory to Sen. John McCain, etc etc ad nauseum using everything from YouTube (both the House and Senate have their own channels) to Twitter (including a grassroots site to get more Congressmen twittering) to Facebook to engage the next generation of voters. But when is it too much?
I’m already getting tired of the sometimes inane posts from the multitude of Congressmen I follow on Twitter. Some of the YouTube videos I’ve seen posted are just weird. And, most of the time, there’s no point. The brilliance in the way that Pres. Obama used new media was that there was always a point. There was always a call to action. There was always a reason you got the text or the e-mail or why the blog was posted.
Now, this could be a function of the nature of Twitter and YouTube as communication mediums. They are designed to, essentially, not have a point. But that leaves a tough question to the would-be new media savants on Capitol Hill: how do you use a slightly pointless medium to make your point without alienating the very people you seek to reach? Pres. Obama mastered this, but it remains to be seen if others will learn from him or continue to blaze their own paths.